There’s a stretch of rough cobbles on York Street in Norfolk that I hit now and then when I’m out for a ride. It runs just two short blocks. I usually hammer along the crest, knowing that speed smooths the ride, yet I’m always relieved to reach the end.
The pic above is from a section of rougher cobbles in the Arenberg Forest of northern France that stretches 2.4 kilometers (that’s 1.5 miles). I can’t imagine riding it solo, let alone with a peloton of riders fighting for position and the best line. And it’s just one of 28 cobbled sections in this year’s Paris-Roubaix, which runs Sunday.
The 162-mile race, known alternately as the Queen of the Classics and the Hell of the North, boasts 33 miles of cobbles to jackhammer racers all over the place.
This year I’m pulling for an on-form George Hincapie to finally win his top priority, but I think the race will go to Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara or Juan Antonia Flecha. Luck plays a huge role in this race (as George demonstrated two years ago), so picking a winner is a little like rolling dice.
Who’s picking whom? And does anybody know of a decent French beer I can offer to the first person who picks the winner before the race begins?